Students Showcase Inventions at 32nd Annual Connecticut Invention Convention at UConn; Quirky CEO, Ben Kaufman to be Special Guest Speaker

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Nearly 1,000 young inventors to share inventions at Gampel Pavillion on Saturday, May 2

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On Saturday May 2, nearly 1,000 young inventors will swarm UCONN’s Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. for an opportunity to win more than 350 prizes and awards at the 32nd annual Connecticut Invention Convention. The event showcases creations that children grades K through 8, from every corner of Connecticut, have been working on for the better part of the school-year.

This year’s convention will feature special guest speaker Ben Kaufman. As founder and CEO of Quirky, Ben is a breaker, maker, and innovator striving to make invention accessible, according to Quirky.com. At 18, he founded his first company, mophie, and learned just how difficult it is to bring one single product to market. In 2009, Ben launched Quirky to break down the barriers to invention and allow creative people all over the world to invent together. He's helped hundreds of everyday inventors bring their product ideas to life and forged partnerships with the world’s largest retailers to sell those products. Today, Ben and Quirky continue to redefine the way the world thinks about product development and invention. Both have been showcased in the New York Times, Fortune Magazine, TIME, and many other publications.

Open to the public, the 32nd Annual Connecticut Invention Convention is an event that culminates a year-long program conducted in 219 schools across the state and focuses on developing students’ problem solving skills and fostering interest in STEM careers. Throughout the school-year the program engages over 15,000 students in grades K-8 and is the longest-operating program of its kind in the nation.    

Opening ceremonies will begin at 10:00 a.m. and feature Kazem Kazerounian, Dean of the School of Engineering at UCONN. Ben Kaufman, CEO of Quirky, will speak at 1:30 p.m.

“This is our largest event of the year and it provides our best young inventors from local-school programs with the opportunity to share the inventions they’ve been working on,” said Helen Charov, executive director of the CIC. “Although some of our young inventors appear on national television programs, such as The Ellen Show, FoxCT, and MSNBC, all of our students learn and hone problem-solving, critical thinking, prototyping and engineering skills which will serve them for the rest of their lives.”

This year, two CIC “Next Step Inventors” were invited to the White House Science Fair to present their inventions to President Obama. They were the only two children chosen to represent Connecticut at the fair and were two of only 100 students chosen nationwide.

More than 300,000 Connecticut school children have participated in the CIC curriculum since 1983. The program, now a staple of innovation education, has aided in the creation of several generations of problem solvers, who recall their experiences with inventing as influential in their career choices. Now in their mid-careers, some have become CEOs of their own companies, scientists and engineers, teachers of the CIC program, and even state legislators.

“Over the last year, the program has grown by 35 percent and attracted entire school districts to participate,” said Charov. “As schools focus on STEM education and ways to excite students in new, hands-on lessons, CIC provides early help with learning 21st Century problem-solving and creativity skills, combined with presentation, which can be an empowering process for kids, often becoming a life-changing experience for many.”

The event schedule is as follows:

8:30 – 9:45 a.m.     Arrival, Registration, and Setup
10:00 – 10:30         Opening Ceremony
10:45 – 12:00         Judging Circles – Student & Judges
12:00 – 1:30 p.m.    Lunch Break & Public Viewing of Inventions
1:30 – 3:00 p.m.    Closing Remarks by Ben Kaufman, Quirky, and Awards Ceremony

For more information about the Connecticut Invention Convention and how to make it a part of your school’s STEM learning, visit http://www.CTInventionConvention.org.

About Connecticut Invention Convention

The Connecticut Invention Convention is a 32-year old non-profit organization whose mission it is to foster interest in STEM careers in children in grades K-12 through a classroom-based program of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. The program is conducted year-round in more than 200 schools in over half the cities and towns in Connecticut, with local “invention conventions” held at schools or districts, culminating with a state-wide finals hosted by the UCONN School of Engineering at Storrs, in May. Its goal is to have “every child, in every school, become an inventor once, better twice,” as a way of encouraging problem-solving and creativity in children now and for the rest of their lives.

Since its founding in 1983, it has supported over 300,000 inventors in the program, and is the largest and longest continuously operating program of its kind in the nation, with participation of 50% girls and 24% minorities. It is supported by major Connecticut corporations such as United Technologies, Eversource Energy, Stanley Black & Decker, United Illuminating, 3M, Boehringer-Ingelheim, ESPN, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Hubbell, Lincoln Financial Foundation, Cantor Colburn, Connecticut Innovations and Connecticut General Assembly, Praxair, Bank of America, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Electric Boat, Pitney Bowes Foundation, Comcast, Microsoft, Petit Family Foundation, Ensign-Bickford Foundation, Frontier Communications, DST Output, Loureiro Engineering Associates, as well as partnered with the Connecticut Space Grant College Consortium and the University of Connecticut Schools of Engineering, Business and Education, and the Institute of Materials Science. For more information, see http://www.ctinventionconvention.org, or find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ctinventionconvention or Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ctinvent.

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